O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How Straggly Are Thy Branches

Do you have a Christmas tree yet? Our family always purchased live Christmas trees when I was growing up, and we would often plant the trees on our property after the New Year. However, we never had any adventures like the tiny owl found hiding in the 75-foot-tall Norway Spruce from Oneonta NY that was set up in New York City’s Rockefeller Center a few weeks ago. The rescued owl, nicknamed “Rockefeller,” was taken to a wildlife center and subsequently released back into the wild.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How steadfast are your branches! (2x)
Your boughs are green in summer’s clime, And through the snows of wintertime.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How steadfast are your branches!

There are a number of different texts for this beautiful carol, “O Christmas Tree”/”O Tannenbaum,” and I know you will be blessed by Andrea Bocelli’s version sung in different languages.

My earliest known Christmas tree artwork was in fourth grade when I created a Christmas card for my parents.

  • Did you know that approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year?
  • There are also close to 350 million real Christmas trees currently growing on Christmas tree farms in the U.S. alone, all planted by farmers.
  • Eighty percent (80%) of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Gary and I made a major decision about Christmas trees two years ago when I was so preoccupied by work and holiday responsibilities that we did not purchase a tree until a few days before Christmas. Off we went to Menards, where only a few straggly trees were left. Not having time to search elsewhere, we ended up with a tree that had been passed over by hundreds of shoppers. After some discussion, we decided that every tree needed a home, no matter how ugly it might be, so we bought it. We loved our pitiful tree, but we also decided that there would be no more live trees in our home after this one.

O Tannenbaum (fir tree) O Tannenbaum, What happiness befalls me (2x)

When oft at joyous Christmas-time, Your form inspires my song and rhyme.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, What happiness befalls me.

Last year, we purchased an artificial tree, which is “perfect.” No live tree to butcher, no blemishes, no needles imbedded in the carpet, and no need to water. While we miss the smell and charm of live trees, we also know that the ornaments on the tree tell the real story of our love for Jesus and the church and our family and friends. Here are a few of our favorites.

The Christmas story was not as romantic as it seems today, for the Christ child appeared in human form in the most lowly of places. Yet Jesus still comes to bring us salvation and hope and reminds us that God’s love extends to the farthest corners of the earth.

The truth is that both Christmas trees, the straggly one and the crafted one, are beautiful in their own right, for God creates and loves us just as we are. Most of all, God wants us to be authentic human beings, with hearts for loving and hands for giving.

To whom will you reach out today with Christ’s love? To whom will you take a pot of soup, make a phone call, or send a Christmas card? How will your voice be heard as we seek justice and mercy for all of God’s children? At a time when many churches across the globe will not be holding in-person Christmas Eve services because of COVID-19, how will you let the light of Christ’s love shine in you and through you to a broken world? Can you hear the angels sing?

Into a straggly world, Christ is coming.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your boughs can teach a lesson (2x)
That constant faith and hope sublime, Lend strength and comfort through all time.


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your boughs can teach a lesson.

5 thoughts on “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How Straggly Are Thy Branches

  1. Thank you so much for what you share. This was precious! And a very Merry Christmas to you and your family. In His peace, always.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful words Bishop! I can hear you singing as I read.
    My Heart thinks, If we all would reach out our arms the branches and extend the Christ Light, it would be enough to wrap around the world multiple times! We as Christians and Children of God could really light it up this Advent season!
    If you notice the human body standing upright with arms out stretching wide is a cross. If you drop them just a bit more like a tree branch. We could and should light the candles at a distance my arm and your arm is 3 foot apart! O Christmas tree o Christmas tree! How Lovely are your Branches!
    All is calm, alll is Bight. Let your light soul shine before men! God Bless you in all you do!

  3. Thank you for those words. I have tears as I read your message. The words that you wrote, “Into a straggly world, Christ is coming” say it all. The world right now indeed does seem “straggly”, but Christ is with us.
    Merry Christmas. Thank you for sharing.

  4. As I put up my artificial tree I put ornaments from family on friends on it and am reminded of the love they have for me and it reminds me of Christ’s love for me too. Thank you for sharing this with us, Bishop! God bless you and your family this Christmas and always!

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